Thursday, December 12, 2013

snow day walk

Last Tuesday we had another snow day (two in a row!), which seemed to begin to make up for the virtual non-winters we've had in the area for a couple of years now. I decided to take a two-hour walk and get some photos. Good thing I went out somewhat early, because the sun began to creep out through the clouds as the temps rose and started melting the snow.  Above are some shots I filtered via Instagram, however you can view the originals and more HERE at my Flickr stream. Nothing like a good outdoor walk to make the soul smile.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

yesterday's ice

Yesterday we got ice in the northern Virginia region. I was glad to have a camera on hand to get these shots. My favorites included the spider webs. It was dangerous to be out an about in the early morning hours, but a beautiful day nonetheless. Today we get snow, and I'm hoping to make some time to get some photos of that as well.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

no hello, no goodbye = no buy

Recently my wife and I decided to stop by an art gallery located not too far off from where she works. It was during a weekend when folks were just beginning to get their shopping in for the holiday season, and it was already starting to get a little crazy out there. Kris was getting back into painting once again and heard about some paintings on exhibit at this art gallery, just down the road, so what better way to escape the consumer-driven insanity than getting lost in a little art.

 I had been to this gallery only once before, last summer, when they had a photo exhibit. The woman who ran the gallery was as kind and accomodating as can be, and made me want to stop by again. At that time, we had just bought our first house and didn't have too much spare money to drop on art, or for much of anything else for that matter, and for me, personally, I'm more into collecting drawings and paintings, so it was enough for me to simply browse and look at the photos. On my second visit though, Kris was with me, and we actually had a few spare bucks, and we were somewhat on the lookout for some new work to hang in the house.

 When we arrived, the place was relatively quiet, with some pleasant jazz music playing at low volume. We walked in and there was an older gentleman who I had seen the first time I visited, sitting at the front desk, near the entrance way. The man didn't look up at all. Not even once. In fact, I wasn't too sure what he was so immersed in that it took away his time and energy from saying a simple "welcome" or "hello". Shortly after we entered, Kris, in a reasonably quiet voice, said how cool it was that the gallery had classrooms, and upon looking at a room near the entrance door, hosting an adult watercolor class, mentioned how she wouldn't mind a refresher course in watercolor painting. A few seconds later, an older woman who was teaching the class, gave us both a sharp, smug glance and closed the door, I'm assuming to shield her five or six students from the deafening wall of noise emanating from our mouths. At that point, I was ready to turn around and walk out the door, and I later discovered that was also the case with Kris. But, as lovers of art, and there were some fine works hanging on those walls, we decided to stick around some.

 After a brief survey of the work on display, many of it consisting of scenic paintings in oils, acrylics and watercolor, we both had found a couple of pieces and even verbally expressed interest in the work. Our conversation about what we would possibly buy that day, could have easily been heard by the man sitting at the front desk, considering the place was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. We slowly made our way towards the exit, checking out some postcards and flyers for upcoming shows and events, yet not a single acknowledgement by the man at the desk. That was when we decided to walk out the door and most likely not ever return.

 The kind woman who used to work there had unfortunately moved on to bigger and better things. The man at the desk was also present the first time I visited, exuding the same sour, silent, sombre mood. Nothing against silence or quiet people, however there was a certain "aura", if you will about this man, as if he was annoyed to have anyone even present in the very space that employs him. I heard the gallery was experiencing some problems staying afloat, and they were trying to shake things up and make some major changes, however, I think the changes to be made were quite simple and glaringly obvious to Kris and I upon our last (and LAST) visit.

 It's not rocket science to assume that the work hanging on the walls won't simply sell itself, at least in most cases. When folks take out a moment of their precious time to visit an art gallery and consider dropping a few hundred dollars of their hard-earned money on a piece, it just may take some coaxing and convincing on the other end. It's that simple, and as an artist who was put in quite a few positions to sell my own work to the public, if done right, and with a little kindness and sincerety, it usually works. The couple of people who were working the gallery that day did everything you possibly could do to drive away visitors, which would lead to potential customers, which could very well lead to the aquisition of some of their biggest supporters, cheerleaders and allies. While my wife and I are relatively easy-going people who aren't looking for a song-and-dance, at least do your part - do your job, no matter what kind of day, month or year you may be having. It's not about you. This can also pertain to restaurants, vineyards and retail spaces, where we've had similar experiences (however far and few) ending with similar results. Customers, not sales, will go flying out the door, and not always so gracefully or quietly. In the end, it's all about the product, in this case the art, and the artists, and ultimately the gallery, who survives and thrives from visits and sales.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

splotch monster island shop now open for business

This evening I finally opened my online Splotch Monster shop, Splotch Monster Island at Big Cartel. For now I've got some prints, original works and bookmarks available, and soon I'll have some cards in time for the holiday season. I've got many more plans for the shop in the near future, but for now I'm starting small and expanding with time.  Please stop by when you get a chance!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"play", the art of kris loya at hypnocoffee, shepherdstown, wv

On Sunday we hung my wife Kris' beautiful art work at Hypnocoffee in Shepherdstown, WV. A huge thanks goes out to Dave Modler for setting these shows up and helping us out, as always! Kris worked so hard on these pieces, many of which are new (some of which aren't shown here), so please do stop by Hypnocoffee if you're in the area, have a cup of joe and buy some art!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

district comics wins shel dorf award/wild ocean coming soon

Just recently I learned that District Comics, An Unconventional History of Washington DC (Fulcrum) was the winner of the official 2013 Shel Dorf award for best graphic novel.  Edited by Matt Dembicki and contributed to by some of the finest writers and artists in the area, this book turned out to be an amazing journey, representing a wide variety of interesting stories throughout the history of Washington D.C..  Having written and illustrated a story of my own for the book, I couldn't help but smile when I got the news. Below are some shots from last year's District Comics book signing at One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia.

Matt getting ready to speak to folks in attendance at One More Page Books.

Group shot of contributors to the book.

Yours truly signing some copies of the book.

A sample shot of a page from my story about Tai Shan.

Pretty soon, a new graphic novel edited by Matt Dembicki, will once again be released through Fulcrum Publishing this coming spring.  It's called Wild Ocean: True Tales of Sharks, Whales, Rays and Other Endangered Sea Life. The book will be released in March, 2014 and is now available for preorder through Fulcrum Publishing HERE.  I was more than happy to have Matt ask me back to work in another book, and below are some teaser process shots of a page for a story I wrote and illustrated about sea horses. Enjoy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

the mail me art flash sale pieces have arrived!

Last week I received the Mail Me Art Short & Sweet pieces I purchased as part of their week-long flash sale. The artwork arrived very promptly and in excellent shape, and the two pieces I purchased looked even more amazing in person. The extremely cool thing about getting these pieces is that they also contained artwork inside! I was hesitant to even open up the drawn and painted on envelopes, fearing I might accidentally ruin these gorgeous works, but I made sure to be very careful. I couldn't believe my eyes when I discovered even more art, and it felt like an extended birthday.

 The first piece I bought was by Charmagne Coe, whose beautiful acrylic painting titled "Plumes of a Heartbeat" (above) contained a wonderful letter and drawing inside, which made me even more happy, as I'm as much a fan of her pen and ink works as I am of her paintings.  This weekend Charmagne will be having a solo exhibit in Phoenix AZ, which will include many new large works, as well as a live painting demo by the artist herself! More details can be found at her blog HERE.

The other piece I bought was drawn by Melody Seal, whose work is inspired by wildlife, folk tales and her childhood growing up in Zimbawe. Enclosed within the original piece were three gorgeous prints, as well as a very thoughtful, handwritten letter with a drawing, describing her work. Could she have been any more generous?! Melody Seal, whose blog is an endless stream of inspiration, is another favorite artist of mine and I could not have felt more fortunate to have purchased hers and Charmagne's art.

Darren DiLieto did an incredible job organizing the third MMA project and I was so glad to be a part of it. The next MMA project is taking on a whole new and different direction, which will be exciting to see unfold. In the meantime, I hope my collaborative piece with JJ Cromer arrived safely in the UK by now! Looking forward to the fourth installment.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

pez the turtle

This is actually a fairly quick drawing of a baby western painted turtle named Pez. Kris discovered little Pez through Instagram, where they had a challenge to draw him. So, I did draw him, loosely basing it off of a photo of Pez. It's fascinating to see such a small, young painted turtle, since our guy, Gammera (an eastern painted) was roughly five-years-old and full-size when I found him in the middle of a busy road eleven years ago. Here's to hoping Pez has many happy and healthy years ahead on this earth!

Friday, September 27, 2013

mail me art flash sale - one week only!

Starting today, Mail Me Art is having a flash sale for one week only, as original works featured in the Mail Me Art Short & Sweet book have been drastically reduced in price. The aim is to make lots of money to present to charities involved with the project, including Animal Aid and the Teenage Cancer Trust. I just purchased a couple of pieces myself, including the piece above by Melody Seal, as well as the one below by Charmagne Coe. Man was it tough deciding on what to buy, but I decided to limit myself to two. In a week, all unsold works will return to their original prices, so now's the time to act fast and do something good for the world by supporting great artists as well as some great causes. Find out more HERE!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

circles art exhibit at the franklin park arts center, purcellville, va

After work I dropped by the Franklin Park Art Center to check out the current "Circles" art exhibit, going on from now until November 4th, 2013. The exhibit kicks off the center's sixth season in operation, and it is also one of many I've had work in over the past few years. This time around I dug out some old friends from several years back - a series of five scratched records painted over with acrylics titled Vinyl Monkeys. These guys hung in NYC a little while ago, and one of them (the sleeping snow monkey) was in a juried show in Vienna, VA a couple of years ago. While they look pretty cool individually, I prefer they hang together as a set, and I think the folks at the center did a fine job displaying them. You'll find lots of other great pieces at the Circles show on display as well, ranging from ceramics to sculpture, and collage to paintings, and everything in between. As always, in addition to the great art, they put on some concerts and theater performances well worth checking out. So don't hesitate to drop on by if you're in the area!